The Kilkenny Poor Law Union was officially declared in 1839. The Workhouse was opened in 1842 at a cost of £11,750. It was built to house a maximum capacity of 1,300 inmates, making it the fifth largest Workhouse in the country. The Kilkenny Workhouse was built to accomodate people from the areas of Aharney, Balleen, Ballybraggett, Ballycallan, Blackrath, Castlecomer, Castleinch, Clomanta, Coolchraheen, Danesfort, Dysart, Eirke, Freshford, Gowran, Jerpoint, Kilkenny, Kilmadum, Powerstown, Shankhill, Thomastown, Tullarean, and Urlingford.
In late 1921 it was decided to close all of the Union Workhouses in Co. Kilkenny. There were plans for Kilkenny Workhouse to become the county's central hospital, but this did not materialise. The site was used for a time as a depot for the county council and is now occupied by a shopping centre.
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